It was 6:30am, the sun had just about risen, it’s uncomfortably warm, and I was tired; this was not the way I wanted to arrive in Hampi. After being hassled into getting a Tuk Tuk, I was told that my hostel is on the other side of the river and that I must get a ferry across. Once at the river I noticed that there was a small crowd of people surrounding what I thought was a large rock; this rock then moved, stood up, and revealed itself to be elephant bathing in the river; as it turns out, this is something that happens daily.
After hanging about to see the elephant throwing water, I decided to catch my ferry. Now, this ferry wasn’t the sort you’d take cars on; it was a small boat that carried about 20 people and looked like it could capsize at any moment; it would’ve been interesting if it did, it would’ve made a good story, and I half wish that it had (apart from the fact that I had my whole life strapped to my back).
After checking in at the hostel I decided I’d have a quick wander around the local area; this was quite amusing as the hostel dog decided to join me the entire time. I mean, I was gone for over an hour and probably walked a few miles, but this little hound kept by my side constantly; I found this unnerving at first due to my earlier experience of Indian dogs (did I mention I got bit by a dog in Goa?). Anyway, after a bit of downtime I thought it’d be a good idea to just chill, regain a bit of energy (night buses are exhausting) and plan my next few days’ outings.
I found out the next day that the last ferry crossing was at 5:30pm (though there are more expensive ways of getting across later on). Obviously this meant that most of my activities had to be rounded off earlier in the day; this was a good thing (my side of the river was quieter than the other side, which was where the bazaar and most tourists were). This also meant that I spent most of my evenings in the hostel reading, writing, and watching Indian TV (which is hilarious by the way). My first full day in Hampi was pretty busy and tiring. If you are in Hampi then I suggest you climb and reach the Matanga Hilltop; not only can you see over the whole of Hampi centre, but you catch great views of other temples on the way up, including the Achyutaraya Temple.
One bit of advice is to walk up from the backside of the hill where there is more shade, then walk down on the front side (which is quicker), believe me when I say that this is good advice! Now, as I’ve mentioned before, I’m not a selfie person, and I’m not quite accomplished enough with my camera to get a good timed shot. Luckily, whilst at the top I met an Argentinian girl who offered to take a shot or two in exchange for the same back.
We chilled out on the hilltop Temple and took the whole thing in before heading back down with the idea of grabbing some food in the bazaar.
The bazaar is a labyrinth of stalls, shops and restaurants, all teeming with people, rickshaws, thieving monkeys, and cows. If you’re looking for somewhere good to eat you won’t have to look far here, there are many rooftop cafes that serve a good bite but, if pushed I’d suggest you have at least one meal in the Mango Tree. Flip your shoes off, drop your bags, and just chill out in this popular, yet cheap, restaurant.
Now, one thing I decided was that whilst in Hampi I’d not drink alcohol, and I’d stick to local vegetarian food; I’d planned to meet Indian and Australian friends in Bangalore and knew I’d be drinking more than normal. This turned out to be a great decision; the best meal I’ve had in India so far was a mixture of vegetarian dishes, all eaten completely with my right hand (something I’m getting better at). This also did me a world of good.
Whilst in India my blood sugars have been, on average, a little higher than normal; at home I usually clock in between 5 and 8 with the occasional spike or hypo. Here, my levels so far have been between 7 and 11 and no matter what I’ve been doing, I’ve not managed to lower them. I’m not sure if it’s the heat, the food, or if I’m tired- I really have no idea. I’ve even tried to actually induce a hypo by over injecting just to drag my levels down for a while (not a good idea, but I did it anyway). Anyway, the checks I did whilst in Hampi were all fine and back down to where they should be, which pleased me to no end. I think that, because all the food is made fresh in India, and I haven’t eaten anything unhealthy as such (fast food, snacks etc), it’s terribly difficult to work out the carb content. Hopefully by the time I leave India I’ll have it figured out.
Anyway, so after I’d explored one side of the river, the ‘quieter’ side beckoned. This side (or my side as I liked to call it) was a bit more difficult to get around so I decided it was about time to hire a bike (this is something I wanted to do in Goa but didn’t bother). With some friends from the hostel I rode to the Hanuman (or monkey) temple. This is also a must if you’re in the area and, after the 600 steps, is well worth it. As the name suggests, there are monkeys everywhere here so be careful what you’re carrying and make sure your bags are zipped up! After we left this place we decided to just go for ride around the area; this was a highlight of my time here. We found a little village called Anegundi which is a few miles east of the Hanuman temple. Here you will find somevery friendly people, herds of street smart cows, and some great chai.
We sat in a local café (about the size of an average shed) and drank some of the best chai I’ve had. There was something calming about sitting with locals reading newspapers, and chewing over the day’s events; we hadn’t a care in the world. If we hadn’t have decided to just go with the flow, we’d never have found this place. I think that even if you’re tired, fed up, and had enough, just ride it out and go that little bit further; you’ll be amazed at what you find.
After a few more temple visits, some great food, and great company, we all slowly parted ways and continued on our own adventures. However, on my final night, me and a friend from the hostel headed out to catch my final sunset in Hampi. We chased the sunset for what was probably 10 miles, pushing the bikes to their limits, trying to find a good spot to climb. After a while we actually gave up but carried on chasing anyway; weaving between trucks, carts, monkeys, goats; you name it, we dodged it. We finally saw it set whilst heading down a back road at speed; it was actually an ecstatic feeling chasing something we’d never catch, and it was a great way to see out my time in Hampi.
I can safely say that Hampi is my favourite place in India so far. The whole place is just calming, serene in fact. The inexplicable boulder formations, the temples, the wildlife, the silence (you won’t find beeping here) and of course, the people; it’s all just beautiful. I hadn’t even heard of Hampi until some guys in Anjuna suggested it and I’m very glad they did. There are a couple of places that I may visit again once I swing round to head back up north and this was going to be one of them but, after the way I felt leaving Hampi the first time, I couldn’t do that again; I genuinely feel I left a part of me there, but also think I took something away with me…